By Farah Mahgoub
Whether you have travel plans or not this summer, reading a good book will make your vacation enjoyable no matter what you’re doing. Here’s a list of Arabic novels from various genres you should read if you haven’t read them already, and rest assured, they’re all worthy of your time.
The Second War of the Dog – Ibrahim Nasrallah
This futuristic fiction novel takes place in an unnamed country with a powerful group that rises to power. With elements of science fiction and fantasy, it centers on the corrupt main character Rashid and explores a dystopian future where greed and brutality
The Night Mail – Hoda Barakat
Winning the 2019 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF), The Night Mail introduces us to letter writers with intertwined fates, who are all immigrants either by choice or were forced to leave their homes. The Lebanese author Hoda Barakat’s work usually explores the psychological effects of conflict and the trauma it can cause.
Women Without Trace – Mohammed Abi Samra
This novel revolves around women who had to flee to other countries due to the prolonged Lebanese civil war (1975- 1990). They examine how their destinies were impacted by their social identities and roots, and how they challenged these identities to create their own.
Shifrat Bilal – Ahmed Khairi Alomari
With a 4.3 rating on Goodreads, this touching novel tells the story of different characters living in New York whose lives change with the influence of Bilal ibn Rabah. The plot, characters, issues, and message will make it hard to put this book down.
One Room Is Not Enough – Sultan Al Ameemi
This intriguing novel follows a protagonist who awakens in a strange room on his own with no way out. He soon discovers that someone who looks just like him lives in the adjoining room, though he cannot communicate with him in any way. Trying to escape, he fills the blank pages of a book he finds in the room, writing about his family and documenting what he sees while watching his flatmate through the keyhole of the door.
Summer with the Enemy – Shahla Ujayli
Summer with the Enemy follows Lamees, who flees to Germany from Syria. Throughout the novel we uncover how Lamees’s lecturer in Germany became her biggest enemy, and we come to learn about three generations of women from a Syrian family.
The Commandments – Adel Esmat
Following several generations of a family living in Upper Egypt, this novel is about a grandfather who gives his grandson 10 commandments to help him in life. The grandfather introduces one commandment every chapter, allowing us to get to know more about his wisdom and experiences in his life.